September 2, 2023

Game Preview | Labour Day Classic

Scene setter: 

The Blue Bombers (9-2) travel west for a second time this season to face the Roughriders (5-5) in the 58th annual Labour Day Classic clash between the two clubs. Yes, this is when the fun starts, as does the dash to the playoffs.

Winnipeg is on a five-game heater after last week’s 47-17 spanking of the Montreal Alouettes while the Riders are coming off a bye week that was preceded by an impressive 34-29 victory over the B.C. Lions. The two clubs will meet again next Saturday in the annual Banjo Bowl at IG Field, a game which sold out weeks ago.

*Note: a win this weekend would clinch a playoff spot for the Blue Bombers for a seventh straight season, their longest run since a 17-year streak ended in 1997.

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The Basics

Kickoff: Sunday, 6 p.m. CDT; Mosaic Stadium, Regina
TV: TSN, CBS Sports Network
U.S. and international live streaming:
Radio: 680 CJOB
Last meeting: June 16, 2023: Winnipeg 45 at Saskatchewan 27
Winnipeg has won four straight games against the Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium, including the 2019 Western Final, the last two Labour Day Classics and the matchup earlier this season.
PlayNow odds:  The Blue Bombers are favoured by seven points. For more betting options on this game, click here.
LDC numbers: The Riders hold a 37-20 edge in the Classic dating to 1949. Incredibly, in 19 of those 37 Winnipeg losses the Blue Bombers entered the game with a superior record and still lost. The most notable of those being the 1984 game that featured the 7-1 Blue Bombers vs the 1-6-1 Riders – a 30-25 Saskatchewan win – and the 2011 Classic where a 7-1 Winnipeg squad fell 27-7 to the 1-7 Riders.

The QBs

  • Winnipeg will start Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 69-38 in his CFL career and 10-3 all-time vs. the Riders.
  • Saskatchewan will start Jake Dolegala, who began the season as their No. 3 pivot. Dolegala is 1-1 in his two career starts.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 91-60. O’Shea’s 90 wins as Blue Bombers head coach now ranks him second all-time in franchise history behind only Grant (102). O’Shea’s teams are 14-9 vs. Saskatchewan in the regular season.

Saskatchewan: Craig Dickenson is 33-27 during his days as the Roughriders head coach and 2-7 in reguar season games vs. the Blue Bombers.

Blue Bomber Roster Notes

  • The Blue Bombers have made two changes to their depth chart this week, bringing on DB Jamal Parker and FB Konner Burtenshaw, with Dime Alden Darby, Jr. and LB Shayne Gauthier coming out.
  • Both Darby, Jr. and Gauthier were moved to the six-game injured list, joining LBs Jared Beeksma and Malik Clements, DEs Celestin Haba and Thiadric Hansen, FB Mike Miller, CB Desmond Lawrence and WR/KR Janarion Grant. Clements, Haba and Hansen all returned to practice this week while Grant has started running again.

Blue Bomber Spotlight: Dalton Schoen

Hat tip to Ted Wyman of The Sun for this: Schoen, the second-year Blue Bomber receiver and the 2022 CFL Most Outstanding Rookie, has 23 touchdowns in his first 29 regular season games. Should that pace – 0.79 touchdowns per game – continue to the 40-game mark, it would rank sixth all-time in CFL history. Former B.C. running back Jon Volpe is the all-time leader in that department with 42 TDs in 40 games, while Willard Reaves tops the Blue Bombers in that category with 53 TDs in 62 games (0.85). Milt Stegall, FYI, had 144 TDs in 199 games or a 0.72 pace.

Schoen had eight catches for 145 yards and a TD in the Blue Bombers win over the Riders in June and has scored touchdowns in each of his four previous games vs. Saskatchewan. His totals in four meetings: 18 receptions for 368 yards and four TDs. And get this; just like the defence, Schoen and his compadres on offence believe there’s yet another level for the attack to still reach.

“That’s one of the beautiful things about football – you can never get complacent,” Schoen said. “You can go out there and make a ton of plays on offence, the ones that I remember – and the guys in here who are good competitors remember – are those plays you didn’t make.

“There’s always going to be plays in football where you can get better. That’s what we strive to do: get a little bit better each week.”

Scouting the Roughriders

The Roughriders got a massive win in their last game before the recent bye in knocking off the Lions 34-29 back on August 20th. Dolegala was 18-of-29 in that game for 239 yards and three touchdowns, rushing four times for 27 yards.

At 6-7 and 242 pounds, the Central Connecticut product is the tallest pivot in the CFL, and his height certainly was a topic of conversation in Bomberland this week.

“Good arm. Reminds us a lot of (Taylor) Cornelius up in Edmonton,” said Blue Bombers defensive coordinator Richie Hall. “Tall, can run, athletic… not a lot of film on him – only from the last game and then we played against him in the preseason. But he’s made plays for them and he’s playing with a lot of confidence, and he had a big win the last time he was out.”

Added defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat: “I’ve gone up against a couple (tall quarterbacks) in my time playing ball. He can see over the line, so he can see a lot more than most guys can. He probably won’t need to get out of the pocket as much to deliver throws, but also, I don’t have to worry about hitting him in the head because he’s a little taller. Most times the quarterback is shorter than us, we get lower than them, they duck, and you know how it is.”

One of Saskatchewan’s key targets is receiver Shawn Bane, Jr. who is tied with Ottawa’s Justin Hardy for the CFL lead in receptions with 55. Bane, Jr. had a massive outing the first time these two clubs met back in June, pulling in six passes for 125 yards.

Saskatchewan ranks seventh in offensive points at 19.7 (Wpg is first at 29.7) and ninth in points allowed at 27.2 (Wpg is second at 20.5; B.C. first at 19.7).


Zach Collaros is 6-0 in his career in Labour Day Classic games – 3-0 during his days in Hamilton, 1-0 in his one season in Saskatchewan and 2-0 in Winnipeg. In those games has a 13:3 TD-to-interception ratio while passing for 300 yards three times and over 400 yards in 2015 while with the Ticats.


  • The Blue Bombers are 24-3 against West Division clubs since 2021.
  • Winnipeg had 25 sacks through the first seven games this year, but has just six in its last four.
  • A victory in Regina this weekend would give the Blue Bombers a winning record on the road for the third consecutive season, matching a mark last set from 1960-62.
  • Riders kicker Brett Lauther has connected on 13 straight field goals and has not missed from inside 51 yards since the season opener.
  • From the league stats crew: from 1958-2023, a span of 4,789 games, there were just 63 times in which a team threw two Pick 6s. Last week the Blue Bombers became just the third team to ever have that happen and still win.